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October 18, 2019

Municipalities celebrate historic partnership by honoring indigenous culture

Cities, Tribes come together to honor Native American culture and accomplishments

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — In recent years, cities across the U.S. have chosen to observe the second Monday in October as Native American or Indigenous Peoples Day.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 111 in April making Columbus Day a joint holiday. Cities and organizations within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation territory held festivities on the joint holiday.  The observances have offered an opportunity for Native Nations and local governments to come together.

The City of Tulsa in partnership with the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission, held a Native American Day celebration on the Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa.  The festivities kicked off with Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum reading a proclamation, welcoming remarks from several tribal leaders and greetings from numerous Native American princesses.

Bynum spoke about the passage of the ordnance recognizing Native American Day three years ago.

“We had no designated day to recognize that heritage, honor or celebrate what is happening in Tulsa. In my first 100 days as mayor, the city council and I changed that,” Bynum said.” We are very fortunate. We have a pro-active Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission that had already done all the legwork.”

During his remarks, Principal Chief James Floyd spoke to the establishment of Tulsa.

“This city was settled by Muscogee (Creek) people. By 1837, we had our own government. We had our own meetings and ceremonies here in Tulsa. So, this is our home and your home as well,” Chief Floyd said.

South of Tulsa, the City of Muskogee partnered with the Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Association to recognize Indigenous People’s Day for the first time. Muskogee’s four-day celebration started Oct. 11 with a stompdance and continued with a Native American film festival, comedy night and other activities.

The official ceremony Monday, Oct. 14, commenced with a march to remember and raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women at Honor Heights Park in Muskogee.

Muscogee (Creek) citizen and keynote speaker Lahoma Schultz encouraged attendees to be positive.

“In honor of our ancestors let us remain positive as we celebrate this historical event. Our ancestors left us a legacy of overcoming, carrying on with our lives in a positive way as we look forward to that grand reunion in that beautiful town up in the sky,” Schultz said.

In Okmulgee, the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) hosted an Indigenous People’s Celebration with Native American artist Steven Paul Judd as a motivational speaker. Judd spoke about his art and his life. The CMN celebration also included a group art project and a stickball game.

These celebrations indicate a willingness to come together for the benefit of all.

“I wish we all continue to strive and work together to produce those things that assist the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma,” said Chief Floyd.